Seven years ago, Dean Hutchison worked for the Department of Health, where he’d been for 20 years, and supported Jeans for Genes because it funded research into childhood disease and birth defects.
His wife, Kim, was pregnant with their first child.
“I didn’t really know the Jeans for Genes connection with CMRI (Children’s Medical Research Institute), just that it’s a children’s charity, so I supported them.”
In January 2006, the connection became a lot clearer.
Kim got up in the middle of the night and said, “I’m feeling a bit off.”
“I wouldn’t normally worry about that, but I said, ‘Let’s get you off to the hospital to make sure.'”
On the way to Baulkham Hills Private Hospital, Kim went into eclampsia- a life threatening complication of pregnancy.
“Her blood pressure went through the roof and she was just screaming in pain and bouncing around the front of the car.
“I got her to Baulkham Hills and that’s when the real seizures started.”
Dean was faced with a decision that would shape the rest of his life.
He could keep them at Baulkham Hills and save Kim alone, or have them moved to Westmead Children’s Hospital and increase the chances that both mother and child would survive.
Without hesitation, they were moved to Westmead where Kim underwent an emergency C-section.
For three days after the operation, Dean didn’t know if his wife or their baby would be going home with him.
“Kim was in a comatose state during that time. When she woke up, the first thing she saw was a little picture of Erin up on the end of the bed to let her know she had a baby and the baby was alive.”
But baby Erin’s fight was far from over. She was kept in neonatal intensive care for 3 ¼ months.
“I lost count after 20 blood infusions. She had laser eye surgery at six weeks, becuase her retinas were detaching, which was an unfortunate offshoot from the oxygenation techniques used to keep her alive.”
“And she had a hole in her heart, so she had PDA surgery at about four weeks.”
Erin was so small, Dean’s wedding ring could fit over her arm and up over her shoulder.
“They (doctors) gave her a five per cent chance of survival. She weighed 597 grams at birth.”